To this old fart it sure seems as though the world, in general, and this country in particular has suddenly and tightly embraced the concept that everyone should be ‘equal’ in terms of social, economic and cultural aspects of their lives. And so many feel this is a ‘right’. I’ll deal with the fallacy of this concept in a later blog piece. While a noble idea I find the very concept a bit removed from everyday reality. Indeed, it seems to me to be more of a ‘lofty goal’ than something we humans might aspire to within a generation let alone a presidential race. But my difficulty with this theory is more than I just mentioned; to the best of my knowledge I cannot identify one single example of this theory within Nature. And, for me, living in harmony with Nature is something I strive towards and so many in other generations claim to embrace as well. But how can we create a country let alone a planet where all humans are equal when there is no ‘template’ or examples within the realm of the natural world?
Equality is a human concept born of the idea that we should all be the same regarding our lives, our places within society and our material wealth. A most benevolent concept but something unimaginably difficult to even begin to reach especially in countries such as the US in which a sizeable portion of the population prize their differences from others. In this context it seems more like a topic to be bandied about by the so called ‘ivory tower’ types yet there appears to be a ground swell of support for this goal. The younger generations are particularly enamored of this concept; this is hardly unusual or unexpected. But to my mind no group let alone a single person has really demonstrated how this would work at the ‘nuts and bolts’ level. Far too often younger folks become so captivated by such an exulted goal they fail to recognize the difficulties involved in even beginning to make it happen. But as anyone who has set out to make large scale changes is only too aware ‘the devil is in the details’. And this is where individuals like our politicians – especially Sanders – have not really been forthright with the American people. Sanders talks of destroying the banking system and hacking up large corporations but these are just ideas; even if he does become president he will lack the power to make this happen. And with what would he replace said systems or corporations? He has never shared such details mainly because he lacks them.
But I go back to my discomfort with such concepts because there is no known model for this ‘universal equality’. Certainly there is no such system among organisms like bacteria, viruses or even insects. In their worlds they struggle to survive by eating, producing waste and breeding. In fact, insects are just about a polar opposite as many species have highly regimented societies in which one is born to be a worker, a solider, a drone or a queen. Such an order seems to permeate most groupings of organisms. There are those who do the work of locating food such that others can harvest it and share it with the community. But within said community there are others that serve the queen, protect the colony and service the queen’s needs. Often even the size of organisms within such a collective varies based upon their ‘birth right’. Moving higher up the evolutionary scale there are some examples of communities whereby there are more degrees of equality. Take a wolf pack; in a broad sense most of the pack is close to equals with just the alpha and beta males and females holding a ‘higher’ status. This affords them the ‘right’ to bear young whom the entire pack helps nurture and raise. But the alpha and beta pairs have a higher status which is notable not just in terms of breeding but also at the site of a kill.
It seems as though the ‘right’ to breed within a community is something earned and then protected via ongoing vigilance. Nature has determined this is her method for insuring the long term existence of a wolf pack. Allowing every member to breed would not only ‘equalize’ the gene pool – something Nature seems to forswear – but would also make it almost impossible to sustain the pack for more than a few generations. The need to pass one’s genes on in the ‘dance of life’ is one thing all organisms on this planet share.
Since I’ve used a canine analogy and I live near a village that truly fancies dogs, not mention I own a pair of wonderful canine companions, I’d like to expand upon canines and undertake a thought experiment. Let’s look at the totality of the domesticated canine population. First off there’s the size and breed differences; it is such diversity that makes the domesticated canine a successful race. There are large, powerful canines like Newfoundland’s, Irish Wolfhounds, Great Pyrenees, Alaskan Malamutes and similar; these breeds adapted to their lifestyles of being predators well up the food chain. Then there canines noted for their intelligence and joy of working with humans like German Shepherd Dogs, Standard Poodles, Doberman Pinschers and Australian Sheep Dogs. Humans appear to have singled out their early ancestors probably because they did exhibit innate intelligence; over time humans bred them so the genes for intelligence were favored. There are breeds particularly acclimated to water like retrievers and labs as well as those able to cope with dry extremes like Basenjis and similar.
Now let’s imagine the canine world decided to make all members equal in status. The smaller breeds would need to grow larger just as the large breeds would need to shrink in size so eventually all canines were of a similar size. Size plays a large part in dominance and if all are equal ‘dominance’ shouldn’t exist. Any ‘stand out’ traits would need to be muted unless they could be shared by all canines. More intelligent breeds would have to be ‘dumbed down’ while those of less intelligence would have to be bred to be smarter. Dogs with survival abilities like the Malamute would need to dramatically decrease such attributes while small, toy breeds would have to become more able to survive on their own. The list goes on and on but I believe I’ve elucidated my point. Nature had a huge part in creating the plethora of canine breeds and so most breeds became specialists. By this very progression the idea that all canines could be equal becomes a fallacy. All organisms on this planet are shaped by their surroundings – and, of course, their genes – so it is painfully obvious given the diversity of ecologies said organisms will be different and ‘unequal’. Unlike the human generated concept of ‘equality’ Mother Nature has no such intent; indeed, she appears to drive diversity as a means to protect and embellish organisms and races.
Does this mean as a race we shouldn’t strive towards caring for our poor, sick and/or crippled? Definitely NOT! But we can accept all human beings are created equal but very soon develop along different paths yielding ‘unequal’ people. Not everyone can be a nuclear physicist, a butcher, an author or an explorer because we are all inherently different with differing skills, intellects and aspirations. We should revel in our differences and recognize that diversity makes our race stronger and better able to adapt and survive.